As I walked into the foyer of the synagogue on Saturday morning, I was greeted by a posterboard bearing the names and faces of the 11 innocent Jewish souls murdered last week in Pittsburgh.
Worshippers attend a “Show Up For Shabbat” service at JCC Harlem following last Saturday’s shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue, in Pittsburgh, in Manhattan, New York, November 3, 2018. (photo credit: ANDREW KELLY / REUTERS)
TEANECK, New Jersey – For as long as I can remember, there have been security guards posted both inside and outside my parents’ synagogue in Teaneck, New Jersey. They’re a fixture of Shabbat – a sight as expected as men in tallitot walking into the sanctuary and small children dashing through the hallways.
But walking past those men and women this Saturday morning was a stark and gut-wrenching reminder of the events of last weekend. And it was a painful and depressing indication of the need to provide protection to American Jews while they worship. I have never encountered security while attending services in Jerusalem; but it is always more than likely that several congregants are armed. In Israel, Jews gathered anywhere at any time are a target for terrorist murderers. In the United States, a madman violated the sanctity of a synagogue to target Jewish people in the most cruel and heartbreaking way imaginable.
As I walked into the foyer of the synagogue on Saturday morning, I was greeted by a posterboard bearing the names and faces of the 11 innocent Jewish souls murdered last week in Pittsburgh. Just beyond that was another board, featuring the smiling face of a bar mitzvah boy celebrating a milestone birthday this weekend.
In even the darkest periods of mourning, Jewish life goes on. And inside that sanctuary, joy and pain mingled during the first Shabbat morning services since the deadliest attack on the American Jewish community in memory.
As a police car blocked the entrance to the synagogue’s parking lot, little girls handed out candy bags to congregants to lob at the bar mitzvah boy. As the 13-year-old recited his Torah portion, a volunteer guard patrolled the perimeter of the building. And as the rabbi finished his sermon, the mayor of Teaneck – Mohammed Hameeduddin – showed up to send a silent message of support. At times it was standing-room only in the 600-seat sanctuary at just one of the three services held in the building that morning.
ACROSS THE United States on Saturday, many Jews returned to synagogues for the first time since a monster opened fire in a synagogue in Pittsburgh murdering 11 Jews while they were praying. Around the country, many of those who aren’t regular attendees showed up as a sign of solidarity with the Tree of Life Synagogue and with the American Jewish community as a whole. The American Jewish Committee started the campaign #ShowUpforShabbat, urging people to join services somewhere this weekend. The Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey called for a “Solidarity Shabbat” _ and 80 Reform, Conservative, Orthodox and Chabad synagogues signed on. The Brandeis University Hillel invited the entire community to Friday night services and dinner. The president of the Prospect Heights Shul in Brooklyn called on community members to wear a tallit on the street as they walked to synagogue. In Los Angeles, Jewish Mayor Eric Garcetti spoke at an interfaith event at a temple in the city on Friday evening.
I asked friends and family around the US about their experiences on Shabbat – both those who normally attend synagogue and others who chose specifically to turn up this week.
What they described paints a picture of a Jewish community shaken, but resolute. Synagogues across the United States – already concerned with security – are on even higher alert.
For the past week, the American Jewish community – and in many ways, the global Jewish community – mourned and grieved this terrible loss. But it also steeled itself and prepared for this weekend, refusing to back down in the face of violent hate. Thousands of synagogues, Jewish centers and schools alerted their members throughout the week about extra security protection and measures being taken. Rabbis of all denominations penned sermons trying to make some sense of such a senseless loss, and offer solace and strength to congregants. Lay leaders volunteered to coordinate with city officials and police departments to offer a sense of security to a rattled community.
It is 2018, and Jews in the United States are praying to God behind locked doors and armed guards. But they will keep praying.
Menachem Begin in December 1942 wearing the Polish Army uniform of Gen. Anders’ forces with his wife Aliza and David Yutan; (back row) Moshe Stein and Israel Epstein
(photo credit: JABOTINSKY ARCHIVES)
During the inauguration of a memorial to the victims of the Siege of Leningrad in Jerusalem’s Sacher Park on January 24, 2020, before the climax of Holocaust remembrance events at which Russian President Vladimir Putin was given a central platform, we were stunned to hear a rendition of The Blue Kerchief (Siniy
Giant figures are seen during the 87th carnival parade of Aalst February 15, 2015
The annual carnival in Aalst, Belgium, is expected to take place on Sunday with even more antisemitic elements than in previous years.
Aalst’s organizers have sold hundreds of “rabbi kits” for revelers to dress as hassidic Jews in the carnival’s parade. The kit includes oversized noses, sidelocks (peyot) and black hats. The organizers plan to bring back floats similar to the one displayed in 2019 featuring oversized dolls of Jews, with rats on their shoulders, holding banknotes.
Pope Francis waves as he arrives at the Basilica of Saint Nicholas in the southern Italian coastal city of Bari, Italy February 23, 2020. Photo: REUTERS/Remo Casilli.
Pope Francis on Sunday warned against “inequitable solutions” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying they would only be a prelude to new crises, in an apparent reference to US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace proposal.
Francis made his comments in the southern Italian port city of Bari, where he traveled to conclude a meeting of bishops from all countries in the Mediterranean basin.
Palestinians walk past a shop selling fruits in Ramallah, Feb. 20, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Mohamad Torokman.
Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) have reached an agreement to end a five-month long trade dispute, officials said on Thursday.
The dispute, which opened a new front in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, began in September when the PA announced a boycott of Israel calves. The PA exercises limited self-rule in the West Bank under interim peace deals.
Antisemitic caricatures on display at the annual carnival in Aalst, Belgium. Photo: Raphael Ahren via Twitter.
Disturbing images emerged on Sunday of the annual carnival at Aalst, Belgium, showing an astounding number of antisemitic themes, costumes, displays and statements.
Israeli journalist Raphael Ahren documented people dressed as caricatures of Orthodox Jews, a fake “wailing wall” attacking critics of the parade, blatantly antisemitic characters and puppets wearing traditional Jewish clothes and sporting huge noses.
The stench of anti-Semitism always hovers over Switzerland’s Lake Geneva when the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is meeting there. The foul emanations reached a new nadir last week with UNHRC’s publication of a “database” of companies doing business in the disputed territories in Israel.
Following the publication of the list, Bruno Stagno Ugarte, deputy director for advocacy of NGO Human Rights Watch, stated, “The long-awaited release of the U.N. settlement business database should put all companies on notice: To do business with illegal settlements [sic] is to aid in the commission of war crimes.”
One of the many things that annoys me about politicians is how sure they are of themselves. Everything is black and white. Every idea is good or bad. Take globalism, for example. You either love it or hate it. It works or it doesn’t.
Another thing that annoys me is how so much of a politician’s life revolves around power: Do everything you can to get it, and everything you can to keep it.
Why am I ranting? Because, while our politicians have been consumed with power and the media with the fights over power, a threat to our nation has been virtually ignored.
Blue and White Party leaders Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid are establishing their diplomatic credentials in the immediate run-up to Israel’s March 2 election with an insult to a U.S. administration that has arguably provided Israel with more diplomatic gains than any previous administration.
The Times of Israel reported that at a campaign stop in front of English-speaking Israelis, Gantz accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “of neglecting bipartisan ties in favor of exclusive support from U.S. President Donald Trump’s Republican Party,” under the headline “Gantz pledges to mend ties with U.S. Democrats if elected.”
Bipartisanship was in short supply at the State of the Union address earlier this month—with one notable exception.
Nancy Pelosi had been looking dyspeptic, shuffling the papers she would later rip to shreds, when President Donald Trump reminded his audience that “the United States is leading a 59-nation diplomatic coalition against the socialist dictator of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro.”
Suddenly, the House Speaker applauded. Trump then introduced “the true and legitimate president of Venezuela: Juan Guaidó.”
The law professor Alan Dershowitz has thrown a legal hand-grenade into America’s political civil war by claiming to have evidence that former President Barack Obama “personally asked” the FBI to investigate someone “on behalf” of Obama’s “close ally,” billionaire financier George Soros.
He made his cryptic remark in an interview defending U.S. President Donald Trump against claims he interfered in the prosecution of his former adviser, Roger Stone.